Mexico marks grim coronavirus milestone, passes 100,000 deaths

FILE PHOTO: People stand next to at the Aztec Sun Stone during a visit to the Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology, in Mexico City
FILE PHOTO: People stand next to the Aztec Sun Stone during a visit to the Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology, which has a collection of hundreds of thousands of examples of ancient Mexican art, and which has reopened to the public after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown in Mexico City, Mexico November 11, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Romero

November 20, 2020

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico, the most populous country in the Spanish-speaking world, has now registered 100,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths, a few days after passing one million infections, official data showed on Thursday.

Mexico’s official death toll from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, is among the highest worldwide, and in the Americas lags only the United States and Brazil.

With a population of about 125 million, Mexico accounts for over 7% of confirmed deaths globally, according to a Reuters analysis. Its mortality rate of nearly 10% is higher than any other country that has reported more than a million cases.

Mexico’s outbreak has likely been exacerbated by chronically underfunded public hospitals as well as a large informal economy in which millions have to leave home each day to earn a living.

Government officials acknowledge that the count almost certainly reflects only a fraction of the real death toll.

From the start of the pandemic, the government has eschewed taking on debt to fund bailouts for businesses or cash payments for workers – a different approach from many other nations that sought to cushion the economic blow.

The health ministry’s death toll hit 100,104 on Thursday, up 576 from the previous day. Nearly two-thirds of reported deaths so far are men, official data show. The ministry’s own figures list more than 15,000 additional “suspected” deaths.

The average age of the COVID-19 fatalities is 64. Mexico City and its densely-packed suburbs – home to more than 20 million people – have contributed the most cases.

“In Mexico, the curve has never been flat,” Lia Limon Garcia, a former opposition congresswoman, wrote in a column in daily newspaper El Universal, criticizing what she described as a false “triumphalist tone” of top officials.

“And today no quick reduction in cases can be seen.”

(Reporting by David Alire Garcia in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Roshan Abraham in Bangalore; editing by Grant McCool and Stephen Coates)